A PERFECT PAIRING:

Ruger 22/45 Lite &

Bowers Paradigm Suppressor

An Article by

MacGregor “Mac” Scott

September 2012

 
 

Some things just naturally seem to go together. Bacon and eggs; ice cream and chocolate sauce; hot dogs and mustard (what’s with all the food metaphors?)…and .22 pistols and suppressors.

Since moving to Oregon over a decade ago and finally being able to own suppressed and other types of “Class III” weaponry I’ve become a full-fledged devotee of quiet guns. An avid varmint hunter, almost all my rifles are suppressed. My around-the-ranch guns are mostly suppressed. Even my go-to house gun is a suppressed H&K USP .45.

How come? Because I’m old and don’t like noise anymore. So I can carry on a conversation with my equally-silenced hunting partners without wearing ear protection. So I can rid my place of vermin without disturbing or annoying my few neighbors. And, possibly, so I won’t be deafened if I ever have to defend myself or my family at home. The reason for having suppressed weapons is seemingly endless.

Ruger 22/45 Lite

A Ruger Mk. II .22 pistol,  internally suppressed by AWC, has been a permanent resident on my Kawasaki Mule for many years and has taken all kinds of ground squirrels, bunnies, snakes, etc. It’s fitted with a Leupold’s superb DeltaPoint electronic sight, is deadly accurate, stone reliable and as close to “movie quiet” as a pistol can get. But it’s heavy, tipping the scales at 3 lbs (48 ounces) loaded, and, frankly, the grip angle of Ruger’s 1949 pistol is starting to wear on me a bit. It feels like a Luger; I like a 1911. So there.

Ruger is,
of course, an incredible company, one that listens to its customer suggestions and figures out what people need. Hence the introduction a few years ago of the 22/45—a standard 22 upper end on a polymer frame whose grip angle (and grips) exactly matched that of the 1911 pistol. They even offered a threaded muzzle, with thread protector, for the suppressor gang they knew was out there. A great pistol this, but still a bit muzzle-heavy.
In 2012 Ruger came out with the 22/45 Lite, featuring a 4 3/8” barrel encased in an aluminum-alloy upper end, thus reducing the total weight of the gun to 1 lb, 14 ounces (30 ounces). This is an impressive a pound-plus difference between the
suppressed Mk. II. This gold-anodized barrel/receiver assembly is also threaded (1/2”x28) for a suppressor. The pistol is light, quick-handling, points like a 1911 and shoots great. I just had to have one.



Bowers Paradigm Suppressor

Bowers Group, LLC, (www.subguns.org) is an Oregon-based Class II Manufacturer specializing in some of the finest handgun suppressors in the world. Ranging from lightweight to robust, from small .22 rimfire through full-auto-rated cans for just about all handgun calibers, Bowers is a force to be reckoned with in the suppressor world. And they’re nice people to deal with: they answer their own phones and respond quickly to emailed queries. As a Class III dealer myself, I really like dealing with these people.

Wanting the smallest, lightest can I could find for my ne
w pistol I contacted Tom Bowers and, via Dorothy (who really runs the place), ordered one of their Paradigm units. All-aluminum and available in several anodized colors, I chose matte black to match the polymer frame on the little Ruger .22. A scant 5” in length and the same diameter as the Ruger’s barrel assembly, the Paradigm weighs only 3 ounces. It feels like it’s not there…literally.

What I Don’t Like (About The Pistol)

I’ve already extolled its positive virtues but, there’re a few things on Ruger’s Mk. III series that I don’t particularly care for. To be fair, they were made necessary by the requirements of certain states, primarily the one that I…ugh, argh…originally hail from. And whose name I refrain from saying or writing ‘cause it makes me break out in hives. Anyway, that state required, as of a certain date, that any handgun sold within its borders must have integrated into its system the following devices:

1.Loaded chamber indicator

2.Magazine disconnector safety

3.Internal, key-operated safety lock.

Being an old guy with sixty-some years of gun handling under my belt, I’ve always viewed “Gub’mint” reg
ulations designed to keep me safe with a jaundiced eye. The first to come to mind was Ruger’s devastating loss in a lawsuit in the early 1970s that required the redesign of their entire single-action revolver series to make them “safer” to carry. I guess it did make them safer but, for the previous century-plus, anyone who carried a single-action revolver knew damned well that you never carried a live round (or percussion cap) under the hammer. Just wasn’t done. There were the errant accidents incurred by people who didn’t understand or care about this limitation…or who just didn’t listen. I’m okay with that. Kind of a natural selection thing, where the herd gets rid of some of its idiots.  Anyway, that’s just one man’s opinion.

As for the three “safety” devices listed above, I absolutely despise a magazine disconnector safety. This, of course, prevents the gun from being fired with the magazine not fully inserted. I just hate this, for a myriad of reasons.

The key locking device is another thing designed to keep the herd safe. Hmmphh! If you want the gun to be safe, lock the damned thing up in your safe…don’t rely on a little key to keep things “safe.”

The last item, a loaded chamber indicator, is kind of a minor annoyance but, and I almost hate to admit this, I’ve grown fond of the one on the 22/45 Lite. A great example of engineering, fitting this thing into an existing structure, and actually making it work without being completely ugly and useless. While I still believe in the time-honored tradition of always checking your chamber manually every time you handle a gun, this little indicator on the left side of the receiver does tell you, by sight or feel, if there’s a round chambered. This doesn’t preclude normal safe gun handling procedures, but I’ve found it handy to make sure a round stripped from the magazine into the chamber during initial charging. I don’t feel that it’s necessary but, of the three, it’s the least invasive and the most useful.

Another thing I don’t care for on the 22/45 is its factory trigger pull. Way too heavy and creepy. This is, unfortunately, typical of just about all trigger pulls found on modern handguns (and most rifles). Having been raised on S&W revolvers from the thirties through the sixties, I’ve been kinda spoiled as to what constitutes a reasonable S/A trigger pull.

The good news is that, with a small investment and a bit of know-how, both the trigger pull and the magazine disconnector can be remedied and removed from the Mk. III pistol. More on that later.

How It Shoots

Without a lot of boring detail of how I tried this ammo, this hold, etc., etc., suffice it to say the the 22/45 Lite is reliable and accurate. After dialing in the iron sights (they shot a bit to the left out of the box), I shot several groups at 15 yards that could be covered with a 50 cent piece. Ammo was all sub-sonic, both CCI & Remington. No malfunctions occurred in over 300 rounds or so.

I bolted on the (furnished with the pistol) Picatinny/Weaver rail (takes 3 screw—use blue Loctite) and mounted a NcStar green dot sight. This cool little reflex sight is essentially an inexpensive version of the (expensive) Leupold DeltaPoint that mounted on my suppressed Mk. II pistol, as seen in the accompanying photos.

For about a hundred bucks, the NcStar sight is rugged, reliable and consistent. Ironically it shot to the exact point of aim as the pistol when bolted to the rail. No amount of adjustment was necessary. I find that unusual, but am certainly not going to argue with it.

Both the NcStar and the DeltaPoint have lightweight covers that, I’m told, turn the sight off when installed. Kinda like the inside of a refrigerator: does the light really go off? I’ll have to take their word for it. The fact that the dot is there when the cover is removed, on both sights, keeps the whole thing simple. No switches to fumble with, no rheostat to adjust for brightness (both have internal, electronic light meters that set the brightness to ambient light).

Dot sights work well for old people, those with failing eyesight and an inability to focus like we once did. Actually, you don’t have to be old to realize the benefit of electronic sights to your shooting abilities. Then again, neither of the pistols fit into the custom belt holster I had Larry Bryan make up for me years ago with the electronic sight mounted. If I want to pack the thing around in the woods with this holster, the dot sight’s gotta come off. On the other hand, both pistols fit perfectly in the zippered gun rug snap-fitted to the hood of my Kawasaki Mule, which I find to be handy as hell.

Damned Trigger…Bigger Damned Magazine Safety

Yeah, I know, I’ve already spoken at length about these two items. Doesn’t alter the fact that I just don’t like them. Fortunately there’s  relatively easy fix.

Simply replacing the trigger with a Volquartsen custom trigger (either in black or stainless) cuts the trigger pull in about half, an amount that should work well for most people. Having worked on Ruger .22 autos during my many years as a custom pistolsmith, I can’t leave well enough alone and attacked the sear with a series of stones. I advise that, if you don’t know what you’re doing here, stay away from stoning out any part of your trigger system. It’s easy to screw up the whole wretched mess. I, however, really like the results I got from my efforts. My trigger now breaks “glass rod” clean at about 2 3/4lbs, which is just about right for me.

These triggers are available from Brownells and are normally in-stock. The blue trigger is #930-012-002WB; the s/s trigger is #930-000-123WB. Price is about $35.

The magazine disconnector can be eliminated by removing the offending part and replacing it with a Mk. II hammer bushing (Brownells #930-000-056WB). You’ve got to remove this stuff in order to get to the trigger so, from my perspective, might as well replace them and get rid of that goddam mag safety. Just remember your hammer will now drop when the trigger is pulled on a mag-removed pistol. What a concept.

By the way, Volquartsen also makes a kit that includes new sear, trigger, plungers, springs and other trigger-related doodads. This kit sells for around $130. I tried one once and didn’t notice much, if any, difference over installing a new trigger and (properly) stoning out the sear. My advice: try the trigger-only fist. I think you’ll be happy with it.

SO HOW QUIET IS IT?

With sub-sonic ammo, very. I have no fancy equipment with which to measure decibel levels and the like, but can tell you that the little Bowers can is every bit as quiet as the internal AAC Mk. II. People have, of course, a movie-incurred expectation from just about any suppressor; many are seriously disappointed when first they hear a suppressor in real life. Best I can say is that the Bowers Paradigm is as close as you can get to movie quiet in a small, easily usable package.

Sure, you can hear the action function and the bullet strike. Duh! If you want something really quiet have one of your bolt-action .22 rifles threaded (properly) ½”x28, screw this can on, use sub-sonic ammo and you’ll hear the firing pin strike and that’s about it. Neat thing about a can is that you can do this, theoretically having one can that’ll mount on any number of properly setup rifles and pistols.

One important thing to note is the fact that my 22/45 Lite, with can attached, functions flawlessly with sub-sonic ammo. The same cannot be said for the suppressed Mk. II pictured in this article: it demands high-velocity ammo in order to avoid stovepipes, short feeds and the like. The Mk. II does reduce the velocity of the hv ammo and is fairly quiet…but not as quiet as the Bowers Paradigm.

Thinking this might be an anomaly, I tried out my buddy Ernie’s Lite and Bowers can. He’s in NFA limbo at the moment and can’t possess his suppressor, but I can. Tried his rig out with both CCI and Remington sub-sonic with nary a stutter.

WHAT THEY COST

Current retail on a 22/45 Lite is around $425. They a hot, allocated item and may be difficult to find, but they are out there. Since I don’t deal in firearms other than NFA, I can’t help you out.

The Bowers Paradigm lists for $395 and is available. Add to that the dreaded $200 NFA tax and you’re looking at about six hundred bucks…cheap for a decent suppressor, actually. If you’re new to NFA weaponry, just get used to the fact that you’ll have to fill out a Federal Form 4, have you local law enforcement chief sign off on two copies, have a couple of 2”x2” passport photos taken of yourself and have yourself fingerprinted by a LE agency. Yeah, I know, I know….your fingerprints are already on file everywhere. Makes no difference: each Form 4 application MUST include recent prints, photos, etc. No way to sweeten the pill.

NFA is currently running 6-9 MONTHS on Form 4 submission. No way to change that either. Just pay your money, submit your paperwork, pretend like the whole thing never happened and someday…someday…it’ll all come together. After that you put the completed Form 4 in your safe deposit box (after making a few copies), carry a copy with the suppressor at all times, and revel in the fact that you now own a legal, suppressed firearm. No further fees come due, ever, and you can pass the thing along to your ne’er do well son or someone via your will or trust. No fees are required from the inheritor, but he does have to jump through the same paperwork as you did: Form 4, prints, LE signature, photo, etx.

Since I’m an FFL/SOT, and if you live in Oregon, I can probably assist you in acquisition of your suppressor (or machinegun…or SBR…or SBS) or the like. If interested just shoot me an email to mac@45auto.com.

To my reckoning, this 22/45 Lite—Bowers Paradigm suppressor combination is one of the best entry-level setups out there. Affordable (as these things go), lightweight, fun to shoot and fully warrantied by both manufacturers. And shooting them is an absolute hoot…made more fun by the fact that hardly anyone can hear you.